Latest news: some good, some unbelievable


Update on the juried show front-

Two of the three paintings I entered in “Spirit of the Horse” to be held at the Palos Verdes Art Center, have been accepted. One is “Takhi Stallion and Mare”, part of which forms the masthead for this blog.

The other is “That’s the Spot!, see below. It was painted from reference that I shot at Khomiin Tal in western Mongolia during my September 2006 trip there.

Update on the festival/show front-

Due to gas prices and the slowing economy, at least in California, I have pulled out of the Los Altos show in July.

I will be participating in the 10th annual North Coast Open Studios June 7-8. Please stop on by, I’d love to see you. I’ll have original paintings, prints and cards available, plus the garden is starting to look pretty good.

The following weekend, I’ll be at the Marin Art Festival. I think it’s going to be a whole lot of fun and it’s almost two hours closer to me than the Los Altos event.

My gut feeling said pull out of the first, but don’t pull out of the second.

And, now something totally unique in my 30 year career in commercial and fine art:

I recently realized how important it is to listen to that inner voice. I was invited last year to participated in the art show at the Grand National Rodeo and Horse Show. I had some reservations from an animal welfare standpoint, but decided that I would send five paintings and attend the opening weekend to judge for myself whether or not this is an appropriate venue for me.

That decision will have to wait, since, to make it short, the show was such an unbelievably incompetent mess at so many levels that I ended up crating up my work and pulling out. Yup, loaded it back in the van and brought it home.

Most of the other over 100 artists, including some from England, Australia, Italy, Belgium and Canada, weren’t so lucky. I am participating in a private forum that was set up to sort this out. As of this morning, over six weeks after the close of the show, many of the artists have not gotten their work back. At this point, work is finally starting to move out, but only because of relentless effort on the part of the management of the Cow Palace. A fair amount of what has been returned is dirty, damaged or not in the containers it was sent in. And a lot of those were expensive Air Float boxes, which are to regular cardboard boxes what real cheese is to Velveeta.

In some cases, art was removed from the Cow Palace against the express, specific wishes of the artist.

The “directors” of this show have, IMHO, lied to, misled and otherwise conned all of us. As of today, none of the three has given the slightest sign of a clue that they have done anything wrong. It’s everyone else’s fault. The stories and excuses change almost hourly.

IMHO, do not, under any circumstances, get involved with anything that they are in charge of.

If you are an artist who sent work to the 2008 Grand National Art Show or joined the Grand National Artist’s Society, you need to email Tami at immediately.

Do not join The Grand National Artist’s Society. Do not participate in the art show at the Santa Barbara Fiesta until you have confirmed that none of the people who created this mess are involved. I visited the Fiesta website and it looks like a great event that you should consider if you live down that way!

I am not going to publish names here. Please contact me through my website if you need more specific information. As we are all learning, what goes on the web, stays on the web. Forever.

If I hear of anything else, I’ll post it here.

Final happier note:

Our doggy guest has moved on and very probably has a forever home already waiting for him with someone who had to recently put his 14 year old longer haired shepherd to sleep.

Pet overpopulation is a myth. The homes are out there, but sometimes it takes patience and some effort.

Doggy guest photo

I finally got a good photo of our canine guest, who shall remain anonymous for now. Handsome guy, isn’t he? He has finally come out of his shell enough to get his head up and be interested in what is going on around him. He knows “sit” and is remembering how to walk nicely on lead. I can forward queries about adoption to the long term foster. As you can see from his tail, he needs some serious TLC for the skin issues. Miraculously, he seems to move ok. No obvious dysplastic wobbling.

Back home and in the studio

Got back from my trip last Thursday evening with no more than what is the usual nonsense when one flies these days. Plane was late getting to Denver, so we were late leaving Denver, which meant I missed my 4:12 connection in San Francisco. On the bright side, the airline automatically rebooked me on the next flight home at 6:30, which was good since the last flight out didn’t leave until, ouch, 11:30pm.


We have a canine guest right now, a 3.5 year old male German Shepherd rescued from a seriously rotten situation. I’m doing the emergency foster while a ride is lined up to get him to his long-term foster. He’s spent the last four months with people who didn’t “like” him, so he was kept inside and forced to do his business in a room. He’s got what looks like flea allergy dermatitis. Very thin fur on his back end and tail. Also very scared at first, but totally unaggressive.

We have him on a long cable tie-down on the patio so he can have peace and quiet, but start to get used to a normal environment not filled with screaming and craziness. He’s unneutered, but very submissive. Ignores the cats. Associates collars and having his neck reached for with something negative, but isn’t head shy. Niki is modeling calm, balanced behavior and setting boundaries for their interactions, so he’s my partner in helping get the poor guy back on an even keel. He’ll be a fantastic family companion once he’s had time in a stable environment and gets his confidence back.

I guess the moral is, if you really don’t want an animal, don’t just ignore it and stop caring for it, do what it takes to get them to a place where they have a chance to get a new home where they will get the love they deserve. Sheeh, is that so hard?


I had a great time sketching and photographing at the Denver Zoo, along with getting to see the Robert Bateman show at The Wildlife Experience. There were so many of his iconic images- the snow leopard sitting on a cliff as snow swirls around, the orca amongst the kelp, the storks at dusk with the shimmering band of gold water, plus some of his early abstracts. He is the living master in wildlife art when it comes to design/composition and the sheer beauty of his painting. Very, very inspirational. If you are in the Denver area and you want to see the best in animal art, see his show.

There was also a small room with paintings of African subjects and I was tickled to quickly realize that I had at least met, if not studied, with all of the artists: John Seerey-Lester, John Banovich, Simon Combes and Daniel Smith. I think I feel a lion painting coming on!

In the meantime, here are some of my sketches from the Denver Zoo. Most of them took less than three minutes, if that, so no time to doodle around. First I try to capture the gesture of their pose or movement, then add things like eyes and fur texture. Last is value, Sometimes I end up adding the modeling and “color” while I’m having lunch. The lions were very fit for zoo cats, but I’ll still “tighten” them up by referring to lions I photographed in Kenya.

The horses are my beloved takhi, of which three were out when I was there. I had seen domestic yaks, but these were the first wild yaks. They manage ok in The Mile High City, but in their native (shrinking) habitat, they thrive at 15,000 feet plus.